We Raise Foundation Awards Three Emerging Leader Grants

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We Raise Foundation recently awarded three Emerging Leader Grants totaling $45,000. Emerging Leader Grants are an investment in the development of leaders between the ages of 20-35 at Christian organizations who are leading new programs at the intersection of poverty, violence, and inequality.

Each Emerging Leader Grantee receives $15,000 over two years with $10,000 supporting the program and $5,000 supporting leadership development. This leadership development includes attendance at a Leadership Fundamentals conference through The Center for Creative Leadership; attendance at the Global Leadership Summit through satellite locations; and individualized leadership coaching. Grantees also receive an invitation to attend the annual Emerging Leader Convening in Chicago, hosted and paid for by We Raise Foundation; free attendance for all We Raise webinars; and promotion and networking within the We Raise community.

Proposals for the Emerging Leader Grant Program are accepted year-round with grants awarded quarterly. The next deadline is February 28, 2020 with grants awarded in April. For more information regarding grant requests, please visit the website at weraise.org/emergingleadergrants.

The newest Emerging Leader Grant recipients are:

Jessica Compton
Community Development & Youth Job Training through Bicycles
Village Wrench, Greenville, S.C.

Leader Profile:
Jessica Compton serves as the first full-time program director for Village Wrench in Greenville, S.C. Village Wrench is one of four social enterprises under Mill Community Ministries, an umbrella organization that seeks to do transformative work in Greenville. A native of Charleston, S.C., Compton graduated (summa cum laude) from Roanoke College, Salem, Va., with a degree in literary studies and a concentration in peace and justice studies. Through a Global Grant Rotary scholarship, she went on to obtain a master’s degree in teaching for secondary education in New Zealand in 2016. In 2017, Compton moved to Greenville to teach high school English at the highest poverty school in the county and also found a home at Village Church. One year later, Village Wrench’s volunteer-led organic growth reached a head; Mill Community Ministries decided to invest in a full-time director, and Compton was hired.

Project Summary:
The mission of Village Wrench is to build relationships with community members and empower leaders through bike repair, bike earning, and cycling educational opportunities. With the grant, they plan to expand workshop open hours from 15 hours/week to 32 beginning March 3, 2020. This will enable an increase in the number of at-risk youth apprentices employed in the shop and opportunity for greater experience for each of them. The additional hours will also offer greater access for community members to earn bicycles or be able to repair their bike in the workshop’s public repair space themselves. Over two years, eight teens will thoroughly develop hard and soft job skills in a bike shop, and 100 elementary and middle school students will practice character strengths and bike repair through 6-Cycle summer camps, Village Wrench’s youth program.

Charnesha Collier
Expanding R CITY’s Path to Career
River City Community Development Center, Chicago, Ill.

Leader Profile:
Charnesha Collier serves as Tuckpointing Crew Leader for Harambee Citybuilders, a program of River City Development Center, Chicago, Ill. She has worked her way up through the Citybuilders program starting off as apprentice and then junior crew leader to an assistant crew leader and now head crew leader. Collier is currently attending Concordia University Chicago, River Forest, Ill. and is an elementary education major with a middle school endorsement.

Project Summary:
Since 2017, River City Community Development Center (R CITY) has operated the Harambee Tuckpointing Apprenticeship Project. Serving youth ages 12-18, the project provides training in the masonry skill of tuckpointing via classroom teaching and community service experience. (Tuckpointing is a technique that involves filling gaps between mortar and brick on masonry chimney and walls.) Up to four days weekly, 1-2 crews of 15 apprentices each serve in the community, providing tuckpointing services to local senior homeowners. Each Friday, apprentices gain classroom teaching on the hard skills of tuckpointing and the career soft skills of money management, budgeting, goal-setting, conflict resolution, and communication. Leadership roles (Junior Crew Leader and Assistant Crew Leader roles) are available for two 18-year-old apprentices gifted in peer leadership and skilled in tuckpointing. In the past year, over 65 teens have apprenticed with the Harambee program. In 2020, R CITY plans to create an additional mini-crew of program graduates to earn income through market-rate jobs that may be outside the current scope of the youth program.

Olivia Ojeda
Worcester Girls Youth Re-Entry Program
Straight Ahead Ministries, Worcester, Mass.

Leader Profile:
Olivia Ojeda is a Youth Re-Entry Worker for Straight Ahead Ministries, Worcester, Mass. Working with girls in lockup, sometimes in the same juvenile detention centers where she was once locked up as a teen, Ojeda brings the redeeming message of the Gospel to offer juvenile offenders an opportunity for a new direction and a new life. After they are released and return to their communities, she continues to work one-on-one with the girls, not only to grow in their faith, but also to build their new lives through assistance with housing, education, employment, and restoring broken relationships. Ojeda established Breaking Bread, a community service program that gives formerly incarcerated girls the opportunity to support homeless and impoverished neighbors in their community by preparing and serving healthy meals and distributing seasonal clothing, hygiene products, and other essentials. Prior to joining the staff of Straight Ahead Ministries in November 2016, Ojeda completed a two-year youth work internship program. She is currently attending Quinsigamond Community College, Worcester, with a focus in criminal justice. Ojeda is the 2018 recipient of We Raise Foundation’s Richard E. Herman Leadership Award.

Project Summary:
A program of Straight Ahead Ministries, the Worcester Girls Youth Re-Entry Program (WGYRP) offers hope and support to girls between the ages of 14-24 locked up in juvenile detention centers who are six months to one year from release and girls post-release. While in lock-up, Ojeda meets one-on-one with each girl, building trust and a relationship with her, assessing needs, and preparing her for re-entry through Straight Ahead’s Ready4Life curriculum. Upon release, Ojeda continues the relationship by providing resources for education goals, employment, court advocacy, and healing broken family relationships. Another key component of the WGYRP is plugging the girls into Breaking Bread, a community service program offering formerly incarcerated youth opportunities to prepare healthy meals and serve the homeless in Worcester. The girls also help organize and implement seasonal events, including holiday gatherings and back-to-school book bag drives.

About We Raise Foundation
Motivated by the belief that freedom is grace in action (Galatians 5:1a), We Raise Foundation partners with Christian nonprofit organizations and emerging leaders working at the intersection of poverty, violence, and inequality. We have a preference for funding solutions within the areas of education, workforce development, and criminal justice and employ a unique approach to our investing by coupling program funding with a variety of robust value-added services that empower our grantees to grow their solutions. As a result of these value-added services, every $1 that donors invest through We Raise multiplies into more than double the benefit to the organizations we support. To learn more, please visit weraise.org. You can also find We Raise on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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